Mikel Arteta has revealed that Kieran Tierney is due to return to training this week ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Italy to face Benfica in their Europa League last-32 tie.
The left-back has been out of action since the 3-0 win over Newcastle United with the club confirming that he’s struggling with a tight muscle in his right lower leg.
Speaking after the win over Leeds United, the Spaniard claimed he was the closest to returning to first-team action out of him and Thomas Partey.
Arteta said: “It seems unlikely at the moment. But probably if there is one player who has got a bigger chance, it’s Kieran, because probably in the next few days he can start to do some parts with the team. But I don’t know how it is going to evolve when he gets a little bit closer to training with the group.” (via Arsenal)
In his absence, Cedric Soares has been tasked with filling in for the Scotsman and it’s safe to say the return of the stricken ace can’t come quick enough.
Whilst the Portuguese is a great outlet from the right-hand side as he showed in the clash with the Geordies, he’s less effective from the left. Making the news that Tierney is closing in on full fitness, music to the ears of anyone associated with the club after the former Southampton man’s recent displays.
Soares is guilty of slowing down some of the attacking play that comes down his wing as was the case against Manchester United, Wolves and Aston Villa. Then there’s his lack of pace in one-on-one situations which was ruthlessly exposed against the likes of Marcus Rashford and Adama Traore in back-to-back games.
With Tierney’s return we can expect much more intent in attack and better defending at the back. His presence has been missed by Arteta’s side as they look to make their way through the Europa League.